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County to ante up $8.6M for Bradford affordable housing project

Move meant to offset loss in revenue expected from Bill 23
Members of County of Simcoe council discuss potential shortfalls in funding for a housing project in Bradford during its Feb. 28 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Simcoe County council’s committee of the whole is supporting adjustments to a Bradford affordable housing development budget.

The changes were made to reflect the development charge revenue loss as a result of Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, and to include the required budget increase for additional capital costs incurred, as well as to enable the completion of the cost-recoverable leasehold improvements for the community and social services commercial agency space, according to a staff report presented to councillors at the Feb. 28 meeting.

The county began preliminary work and site preparation for the new affordable housing build in Bradford West Gwillimbury in November 2022, including fencing and the addition of excavation and construction materials to the site.

Bradford Mayor James Leduc, chair of the county’s human services committee, expressed concern about where some of the funding for affordable housing is lost because of Bill 23.

“I am not aware of Bill 23 changing, other than something legislative, but there hasn’t been any regulations come down yet from the province, unless it has (recently). I don’t know why we are having to do this right now,” he said.

Mina Fayez-Bahgat, the county’s general manager of social and community services, explained the county is projecting a loss of revenue due to the loss of development charges.

“When we structured the build and the budget for it, we structured it based on the anticipation of the development charge revenue. Now that Bill 23 has come into play since November of 2022, we are unable to rely on that funding as a part of the funding structure,” he said.

The county, Fayez-Bahgat noted, has allocated $8.6 million to offset the loss caused by Bill 23 in order to reduce the pressure on this project.

“We anticipate further details on the guidelines and impacts. Hopefully, if we see a shift or a change in terms of affordable housing projects or subsidized housing projects like this one (that) may be qualified under an exemption … certainly, we would readjust that budget accordingly,” he said. “At this point, to allocate the federal funding, which has a very tight timeline, we are anticipating just this short (due to) the impact of Bill 23.”

A news release from the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury describes the project as follows:

“The 50-unit, mixed-use building will include affordable residences for eligible families and seniors, a county social and community services office, and ground-level community space. In addition to creating an attractive streetscape to this central location within Bradford West Gwillimbury, the building will be accessible to adjacent pedestrian walkways and local transit, and is within walking distance of the GO Transit station.

“The four-storey building has been designed to complement the existing urban neighbourhood, with cost effectiveness and energy efficiency in mind. Exterior building features include a high-quality and durable panel system at the residential levels, with masonry features throughout to provide texture and visual interest.”